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Endless Evergreen

In botany, an evergreen is a plant which has foliage that remains green and functional through more than one growing season. This also applies to plants that retain their foliage exclusively in warm areas, as opposed to deciduous plants, which lose their leaves altogether during the winter or dry season.

  • Most species of conifers (e.g., pine, hemlock, blue spruce, and red cedar), but not all (e.g., larch)

  • Live oak, holly, and "ancient" gymnosperms such as cycads

  • Most angiosperms from frost-free climates, such as eucalypts and rainforest trees

  • Clubmosses and relatives







 

Did You Know?

Christians saw evergreens as a symbol of eternal life with God. Fir trees were utilized as Christmas trees in Northern Europe over 1,000 years ago. In Northern Europe, people planted evergreens in boxes inside their homes throughout the winter.

Yule trees, evergreens such as fir and spruce, were regarded as symbols of eternal prosperity. Even in harsh environments, they were emblems of hope and newness. Bringing their branches - and, more recently, entire trees - inside during Yule was thought to revive and revitalize the dwelling in preparation for the next year.

 




Any plant that retains its leaves throughout the year and into the following growth season is considered evergreen. Many tropical species of broad-leaved blooming plants are evergreen, but in cold-temperate and Arctic climates, evergreens are typically cone-bearing shrubs or trees (conifers) like pines and firs. Evergreen leaves are often thicker and more leathery than deciduous leaves (those that shed their leaves in autumn or during the tropical dry season), and needlelike or scalelike in cone-bearing trees. A leaf on an evergreen tree can live for two years or more and fall at any time of year. An evergreen forest can be needle-leaved, as in the Northern Hemisphere's coniferous forests, or broad-leaved, as in the Southern Hemisphere's temperate rain forests and the Northern Hemisphere's broad sclerophyll forests (with thickened, hardened foliage resistant to water loss). Broad-leaved evergreens are found in the majority of tropical rain forests.


Herbal uses:

Overall evergreens are a strong anti-inflammatory effect to reduce swelling and inflammation. Helps with pain management when it is dull, sharp, fixed or moving, numbing, stabbing, and cramping. Manages pain of skeletal and smooth muscles. Suggested Use: 2-4 capsules three times daily on an empty stomach.

Pine is used for upper and lower respiratory tract swelling (inflammation), stuffy nose, hoarseness, common cold, cough or bronchitis, fevers, tendency towards infection, and blood pressure problems. Some people apply pine directly to the skin for mild muscle pain and nerve pain. People use the sprouts, needles, and bark to make medicine as well as food.

Balsam Fir Needles, Cones, Bark and twigs are used to make a variety of preparations. As a paste, they treat cuts, burns and snow blindness. As a tea, they help induce sleep, as well as relieve cold symptoms including cough, sore throat and chest or sinus congestion. When injured, balsam fir produces resin, which helps seal wounds and keeps insects, fungi, and bacteria from hurting the tree further. The resin is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It was traditionally applied to wounds to help seal them and prevent infection.

EMERGENCY FOOD SOURCE

Balsam resin and cambium (the soft inner bark) can be eaten in a survival situation. It does not taste good, but will provide you with a few calories. Cambium can be dried and ground into flour. The needles and twigs of balsam fir can be boiled to make tea. The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) used balsam tea to help treat colds, coughs, and asthma.

Spruce is antimicrobial against bacteria and fungi. Spruce resin or pitch is an excellent antiseptic for wounds and was traditionally used a lozenge for sore throats and coughs. Spruce pitch and needles were traditionally taken internally to treat lung congestion. Spruce can also become an EMERGENCY FOOD SOURCE, the young spruce tips in spring can be eaten fresh or cooked.

Juniper berries or extract of the plant has traditionally been used as diuretic, anti-arthritis, anti-diabetes, antiseptic as well as for the treatment of gastrointestinal and autoimmune disorders.


 

Terms to Know


Cambium: A cellular plant tissue from which phloem, xylem, or cork grows by division, resulting (in woody plants) in secondary thickening. Put simply, cambium refers to the slender plant membrane located right underneath the bark of a woody tree or plant.


Supporting Cluster Post to Include: Coming Soon


 





Folklore


Holly, one of several protective evergreens, holly has been a significant part of Yule tradition for thousands of years. The Druids regarded it as the sacred king of winter – while other plants withered during the cold months, holly continued to flourish. As a result, the prickly plant became a symbol of renewal and rejuvenation, maintaining high spirits through winter. Many ancient Europeans brought holly into the home as protection – its spikes were said to repel unwanted spirits and bring good luck.

The Druids considered Ivy to be the queen to holly’s king. Also an evergreen that endures challenging environments and keeps its colour all year, ivy is symbolic of endurance and promise. Thought to possess magical qualities, it was hung in the home to bring luck in the spring. Ivy is especially significant because it grows in a spiral, reflecting the Wheel of the Year.

Mistletoe is typically hung from the ceiling and its magical properties come from the belief that it exists between two worlds: sky and earth. It is cut carefully to ensure that it doesn’t touch the ground. Mistletoe has long been regarded as a symbol of freedom. Ancient Europeans believed it was a sign of peace, and any time warring Celtics found it in the forests, they would honour the plant and drop their weapons. Today, mistletoe is less of a white flag of surrender, but we still honour it with compassion by sharing a kiss!






Conclusion

You will typically find all people use evergreen around the holidays and they all have similar reason for doing so, the connection evergreens hold to the idea of eternal life and prosperity in christianity, paganism and other faiths. Weather used for purposes of decoration, folklore and magic or healing they have many benefits and uses.



Works Cited

“Evergreen.” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evergreen. Accessed 3 December 2022.

“evergreen | plant | Britannica.” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/plant/evergreen-plant. Accessed 11 December 2022.

Gibson, Rebecca. “Traditional Flora of Yule – Rebecca On The Wing.” Rebecca On The Wing, 21 December 2021, https://rebeccaonthewing.com/2021/12/21/traditional-flora-of-yule/. Accessed 11 December 2022.

“Juniper: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Uses, Dose & Precautions.” RxList, 11 June 2021, https://www.rxlist.com/juniper/supplements.htm. Accessed 3 December 2022.

Pelletier, Latifa. “White Spruce (Picea glauca): – Latifa's Herbs.” Latifa's Herbs, 3 September 2019, https://www.latifasherbs.com/white-spruce-picea-glauca/. Accessed 6 December 2022.

“Pine: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Uses, Dose & Precautions.” RxList, 11 June 2021, https://www.rxlist.com/pine/supplements.htm. Accessed 3 December 2022.

Sandborn, Dixie. How did evergreen trees become a symbol for Christmas?, 6 December 2016, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/how_did_evergreen_trees_become_a_symbol_for_christmas. Accessed 11 December 2022.

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